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Useful apps for detoxing from your smartphone

The use of the smartphone that accompanies us from bedtime to the office to bedtime can be controlled thanks to… a few mobile applications.

Using your smartphone to detach yourself from it – the irony of the situation won’t have escaped you. A method that can prove very useful, especially when you bear in mind the meteoric rise of mobile telephony. This is borne out by the annual survey carried out by Arcep and Bercy, which concludes that more than one in two French people is now equipped with a smartphone, twice as many as three years ago.

That’s why regulating the use of your smartphone on a daily basis can quickly become a necessity, especially when it’s everywhere: at mealtimes or during meetings. This trend already has a name: “phubbing” (a contraction of “phone” and “snubbing”). Phubbing refers to the habit of looking at one’s phone almost compulsively, even when someone else is talking. Another related phenomenon is nomophobia*.

To combat these symptoms, there are very concrete solutions, beyond occasional experiments in digital detox, via… applications. Journalists at Inc.com recently drew up a non-exhaustive list, valid for iPhone and/or Android use, for supporters of the gentle method and/or the aggressive approach.

What is nomophobia?

This concept, coined by the British, describes a strong addiction to the smartphone, expressed in the fear of parting with it. In English, it means “no mobile-phone phonia”.

Apps for a gentle detox

Let us guide you through the process, BreakFree (iOS, Android) is a very good example of this. The app scrutinizes your phone usage in minute detail to determine an “addiction score”. Then it tells you how often and for what purpose you need to unlock your phone. As a result, the app concocts a precise balance sheet for you, mentioning the number of minutes or hours spent on each activity (calls, Facebook, checking your e-mails, Instagram etc.).

In the same spirit: Stay on Task (Android), an application that lets you disconnect your phone from all notifications during a certain time slot that you set in advance. The aim: to be fully concentrated on a single task in a professional context, or to enjoy evenings out with family or friends.

More "aggressive" applications

Offtime, available for iPhone and Android, lets users block time-consuming applications like Facebook and games, or filter specific communications, while keeping you “connected” to your mobile. With the option of choosing modes such as “work” or “family”, you can let the app automatically filter your notifications. A great help if you want to change your habits gradually, without feeling rushed.

In a similar vein, AppDetox (Android) is an application that gives you the upper hand and tailors itself to your manias by asking you to make your own diagnosis. If, for example, you’re addicted to phone games or your twitter feed and you report it, “AppDetox” will simply call you to order in case of excess.

"Electroshock" applications

More of a shock therapy? Select Moment, available only on iPhone. This application lets you set limits on the amount of time you use your phone per day. “Moment was launched by Kevin Holesh, who felt he was too addicted to his Apple phone. You can either let the app calculate the amount of time you spend on your smartphone browsing social networks so that it can alert you when you’re exceeding your limits, or you can do it manually. You can even allow the application to inundate your screen with particularly annoying alerts as soon as you exceed your set usage time.

Flipd goes one step further: if you exceed your allotted usage time, the application will lock your phone. And there’s no need to switch off and restart your smartphone: the lock screen will be replaced by the Flipd screen. Not only will you no longer have access to SMS messages and incoming calls, but the application will answer for you when you’re… “busy”. Radical.

Note that “Flipd” can also be applied remotely to act as a parental control on children’s phones. That said, in case of extreme emergency, you can unlock your phone for 60 seconds.

Of course, the best way to avoid addiction is self-regulation. Simple rules, such as banning your device at the table or before/after a certain time, can help.

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